We humans are a productive species, and that means that we need to do things in order to feel fulfilled. In fact, a recent study found that the more busy a person is, the happier they are!
So what does this mean for us?
It means that we should think of increasing our productivity as a worthy goal – not only for the sake of ticking things off our to-do list – but also for our happiness in general!
That’s why I’ve decided to round up 16 of my best, most effective productivity tips to share with you. So get those pencils ready, ’cause after you’re done here, you’re going to be ticking a whole lot of stuff off that list of yours!
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1. Create a morning routine
We may not all be morning people, but research shows that there’s a direct correlation between how early a person wakes up and how successful they tend be. This is because of a couple reasons:
First of all, the earlier we wake up, the more time we have to spend doing healthy morning habits. These habits will then set the tone for the rest of our day. Some examples include:
- Writing stream of consciousness
- Mindfully drinking our coffee/tea
- Writing down things we’re grateful for
- Repeating positive affirmations to ourselves
On top of this, waking up early also means that we’ll have more hours in our day to get things done. Once we finish our healthy morning habits, we can just get straight to work (even before most people have waken up yet!).
2. Group easier tasks together and get them done first
Here’s a good rule to follow: if it can take you 5-10 minutes to do, just do it (I promise this isn’t a Nike advert!).
Take a couple minutes (in your morning!), to list all the quick and easy tasks you need to get done – whether it’s responding to an email, calling someone back, or even unloading the dishwasher. These are super easy things to do, but if you keep putting them off, they pile up, and that’s when they start to get overwhelming.
Plus, when you do these quick tasks first thing, it’ll get you in the “get stuff done zone”. Once you start doing even the simplest of tasks, you’ll be surprised to see how motivated you are to keep going!
3. Do your most dreaded task right away
We all have that ONE task on our to-do list that we keep putting off because we just don’t wanna do it.
Whether it’s a big time-consuming project or just one little chore that we shiver at the thought of actually doing (returning a phone call that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps?) – you just have to get it done.
The easiest way to do this? Get it done first thing in the – you guessed it – morning! After you’ve done a few of your small tasks, get the cringe-worthy one done and dusted and OUT of your mind (and enjoy how amazing it feels after you do so!).
4. Write everything down on paper
Sunday is great for so many things – movie nights, roast dinners, and planning out your next week!
Spend some time on Sunday evening listing all the things you want to get done in the following week. But here’s the catch – leave your computer and your phone turned off. Instead, write it all down on – GASP – physical paper!
Okay, in all seriousness, writing things down on paper rather than on your electronic devices has SO many benefits (as this article does a great job explaining). For me, the biggest benefit is being able to physically cross everything out when I accomplish it – there’s no better feeling in the world, I swear.
And lucky for you, my Goal Planner was designed to help you with just this! I created this planner to guide you in getting clear on your goals so that you can break them up into smaller tasks to do throughout your day. It’s a fantastic resource for helping you take charge of your daily habits so that you can manage stress much better!
5. Don’t hesitate
Shout out to all my fellow procrastinators out there! Okay, this is one tip that I struggle following the most, but it’s also one of the most important ones (funny how it always seems to work like that!).
When we look down at our to-do list (handwritten on paper of course!), it can be overwhelming to see everything we have to get done. Often when this happens, we have this funny little habit of doing nothing at all rather that just doing something!
This is called procrastination, but I like to call it inaction. Why? Because it has the solution right there in the word – ACTION!
Honestly, just start doing something. I promise, once you do, you’ll get in the zone.
6. Eat healthy
If you want to be productive, there are 3 key times during the day you’re gonna want to pay special attention to:
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner (okay, let’s be honest – snack time too!).
What you put inside your body is going to make all the difference with how many things you’re able to get done throughout the day. Food is fuel, and your body and mind need fuel to be able to focus hard and work harder (if you want more insider tips and tricks on how to incorporate healthy eating habits into your daily routine, I suggest heading on over to my website and checking out my Design Your Anxiety-Free Life course!).
7. Take breaks
We’re all human, and that means we can’t be operating on superdrive all day long.
No matter how overwhelming your to-do list may seem, you MUST take breaks. Not only will it give your mind and body a much-needed rest, but it will also allow you to be more productive when you start back up again!
Schedule in advance small chunks of time throughout your day that you will dedicate to doing something that isn’t work.
Now, as much as our phones and the TV remote may be tempting, I advise against just flipping on a screen. Instead, the best thing to do on your breaks is something that rests you but also charges you. These things include:
- Reading a book
- Stretching/working out
- Spending time in nature
- Doing something creative
- Listening to an inspirational podcast
- Cleaning (yup, I said it! But honestly, you’d be surprised at what epiphanies you can have about your work while washing the dishes!)
8. Get in some exercise
Exercise is like the cousin of eating healthy – and you need the help of both these cousins if you want to get stuff done during the day!
Working out is such an underrated component when it comes to being productive. I can’t stress this enough – if you want to feel motivated and productive, you need to get moving!
Whether it’s a stroll down your street, a quick yoga session, or even just a 5-minute stretch in your office – any and every form of physical activity is going to be your saving grace during your working day (which my Habit Tracker will help you stay on top of doing!).
9. Group similar tasks together
This is what many people would call a productivity “hack”. Why? Because it’s a super easy yet not very well-known tip that only THE most successful people do (which will soon be YOU!).
When you’re planning out what you want to get done during your day, try as best you can to schedule similar activities in during the same time frame. For example, let’s say you have a lot of correspondence to do (phone calls, emails, texts) – schedule those in for one time block. If you have a bunch of cleaning that needs to get done, schedule each cleaning task in another block together.
When you do this, you’re allowing your brain to stay in similar “zones” as it does similar tasks. This means that you’ll spend less mental energy “switching” from one task to another completely unrelated task.
Related Article: 4 Ways Your Physical Health Can Heal Your Mind
10. Break up bigger, daunting tasks into smaller chunks
This one is for that MONSTER on your to-do list (you know that one I’m talking about!). In order to defeat the beast, you gotta take it in chunks.
Instead of focusing on the WHOLE task, break it up into 3, 4, 5, or as many smaller tasks as it requires. Separate each task on your to-do list so that your brain just thinks of them as small, not-so-daunting tasks.
11. Focus on one thing at a time
You have a million things to do. I know. I totally get it. But the only way you’ll get everything done is when you work on One. Thing. At. A. Time.
Whenever I have a never-ending to-do list, I tend to lose focus on one task because I’m thinking about that other thing I need to do, and that other other thing I need to do. I have to constantly remind myself that this way of thinking is NOT helping me – in fact, it’s distracting me from doing what I need to do!
Just take it one step at a time. You’ll get to everything. Don’t worry.
12. Have a good organizational system in place
If you’re anything like me, then you naturally have about TEN different places where you keep all your thoughts and notes organized (email, Google Grive, Dropbox, Microsoft Word, notes on my phone, notes in my notebook etc etc…). This is no way to be, and it will just end up adding more time to each of your tasks.
One of the best decisions I ever made in terms of my productivity was to streamline my organizational system. How did I do it? One word: Evernote.
Evernote has been an amazing help in keeping all my many (MANY) thoughts organized an in their place. Honestly, if you haven’t already, I recommend downloading it (it’s totally free!).
13. Minimize distractions
Social media is great way to connect with people. It’s also a great way to lose FOCUS.
I, along with many of you I’m sure, have often fallen into the trap of taking a “five minute break” that turns into me scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed for HALF AN HOUR (I swear that social media distorts the time-space continuum).
My best advice to you? Switch your devices off. Your friends can wait, you can upload photos later, and you definitely don’t need to see who posted the latest vacay pic.
I know that this can be difficult to do on your own, but there are some super helpful apps out there that can help you out with this.
Related Article: 6 Common Destructive Behaviours You Need to Stop Now
14. Get enough sleep
Who could say no to some extra Zz’s?!
Just like eating healthy and exercising, sleep is another vital function that our body NEEDS in order to be in tip-top condition to get things done.
If you struggle getting enough sleep, then I recommend you check out my Free Anxiety Handbook. In it, I share one super effective relaxation technique that works absolute wonders in helping you fall asleep easier and faster!
15. Say ‘no’ sometimes
One of the biggest things that has helped me focus more on the important things is learning the art of saying ‘no’.
It can be difficult to tell people that two-letter word, but honestly, once you learn how to, it’ll be a total game-changer. Whether it’s taking on more responsibilities at work, running some errands for your family, or doing a favour for your friend – you are always allowed to say ‘no’.
People will understand if you just explain the truth – “I’m really sorry, I won’t be able to do this for you because I have a lot of pressing things I need to get done but I’ll be happy to do it [insert time when you’re free]”.
16. Realize that the world will go on if you don’t get everything done
Go easy on yourself. If you don’t get everything on your to-do list done, it’s okay. You’ll survive. The world will go on.
You need to work through your to-do list with less of a “I-need-to-get-everything-done-OR-ELSE!” mentality and more of a “I-just-have-to-work-through-this-step-by-step” mentality. All is good, all is well.
You’ll get it done.
If you want more help crushing your to-do list and living a stress-free life, then check out my Productivity Secrets and Goal Planner! In it, I’ll be giving you worksheets and planners that guide you in structuring your day in a way that works for your schedule and aligns with your goals!
Content Creator at Mindaya
Natalie is a freelance writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland.